Five different players made their Brewers debut in Friday night’s season opener. The night was just a little more special, though, for one of them.
Kids all over the country start their love of baseball by playing on their hometown little league diamonds. Many of them dream that some day they will be playing under the lights in the major leagues, whether for a team like the Brewers somewhere else in the MLB.
Some of those aspiring big-leaguers hope that they will get to wear the uniform of one of the legendary franchises like the Yankees, the Red Sox, or the Dodgers. Others see themselves in the dugout of the team from their home state.
Brewers pitcher J.P. Feyereisen got to live the dream of many of those kids on Friday night, on Opening Day no less. The Wisconsin-born hurler came in to pitch the final inning of the game against the Cubs.
Feyereisen’s first ever outing for Milwaukee may not have gone exactly how he planned. He gave up a solo shot to Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo in the ninth that allowed them to increase their lead to 3-0.
He did, however, retire the other three batters he faced, inducing a pop up from Ian Happ, a strikeout from Kris Bryant, and a ground out from Javier Baez. That amounted to relatively minimal damage from four extremely talented Cubs batters.
Being able to play for the team from your home state is a rare accomplishment, especially when it comes to the Brewers. Last night, Feyereisen became just the tenth Wisconsin-born player to eventually play for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Feyereisen’s path to join the lore of homegrown players to have played for the Brewers may have been unexpected as well. He didn’t play for some major college where it’s easy to be noticed, but stayed local and attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
It turned out he was able to open enough eyes even while playing at a Division III college, though being named WIAC Pitcher of the Year in 2013 certainly helped. His performance for the Pointers was good enough to get him drafted by the Indians in the 16th round in 2014. He would then move on to the legendary Yankees franchise in 2016 as a part of the blockbuster Andrew Miller trade.
Feyereisen worked his way up to Triple-A within the Yankees organization by 2017, which is where he played up until the end of last year. Then, in an under-the-radar move, the Brewers traded for him in early September and added him to the roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.
The right-hander pitched alright in Spring Training, but he really turned it on with solid performances in Summer Camp. That, combined with the expanded 30-man rosters to start the season gave him the roster spot, and in turn the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day.
It remains to be seen whether Feyereisen will stick on the active roster for the entire season. Rosters shrink down to 26 players over the next few weeks and he will be among a handful of relievers about which the Brewers will have to make some difficult decisions about whether to keep around.
Whether or not he makes those cuts, though, it’s very likely that he will contribute plenty over the course of this season. We all know how manager Craig Counsell likes to rotate relievers in and out to keep them as fresh as possible.
Either way, it had to be an incredible feeling for the Wisconsin native as he made his Brewers debut on Friday. There are sure to be many more as he continues his MLB career with Milwaukee.